[Election-Methods] Simple two candidate election

rob brown rob at karmatics.com
Mon Dec 24 07:34:36 PST 2007

On Dec 24, 2007 12:34 AM, Juho <juho4880 at yahoo.co.uk> wrote:

The non-reproducing worker bees are probably not completely non-selfish. I'm
> sure they push the next worker bee aside when they want to perform some
> important task within the hive

Well, apologies if I am straying too far into evolutionary biology, but if
you think that bees might be somewhat selfish among themselves, and that a
bee colony is somehow the same as a city but smaller, you probably don't
understand eusociality.  It's easy to apply your intuition about human
behavior to other animals, but if you apply it to non-reproducing bees, you
are making a big mistake.  It just doesn't apply.

Ok, also reciprocity is a concept that bees probably don't use much (due to
> limited conceptual thinking capabilities).

This has absolutely nothing to do with conceptual ability.  Look at the
design of a bee's stinger -- which is morphology, not behavior.  When a bee
stings, it kills the bee.  Do you know of anything like that in an animal
that reproduces directly?  It would be what might be referred to as "a
really stupid design".  Natural selection would have weeded that out within
a few generations.  (note that some bees don't live in colonies, and DO
reproduce directly, and guess what?  No stinger at all on them...)

In a eusocial animal, a stinger that kills the bee is fine, since a worker
bee....from a Darwinian perspective....has no more tendency for preservation
of self over other bees in the colony than does a cell in your body over
other cells in your body.

There is a fundamental difference between eusocial animals and non-eusocial
animals.  The math on such things isn't hard to do.  Altruism in humans can
be explained by reciprocity and similar things, but (with the exception of
parent-child) kin selection hardly plays into it.  Kin selection is
EVERYTHING in worker bees.

I wrote above "in favour of the genes", but I would say only that genes are
> one way to explain motivations and the way the world works, not necessarily
> the only correct one (maybe you didn't say so either).

I'd like to hear another.  The main competing theory for motivations I've
heard is that God made us in his own image and put selfishness in us so he
had something to punish us for.  Another theory is that all living things
simply have an intrinsic motivation to survive and be happy, which is one of
the core assumptions behind Lamarkian (pre-Darwinian) evolution theory.
While that assumption seems rather obvious from an intuitive perspective, it
has no basis in anything else, once you think it through.

(for what it's worth, I'm actually working on an article on this stuff,
independent from voting theory.  Bees, and understanding the difference
between their motivations and more typical animal motivations, is what
inspired my interest in evolution, game theory and related fields as a kid,
so it is core to my thinking on all this)
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